Welcome to the 2022 Super Bowl Ad Awards For The Non-Poetic! Super Bowl LVI is history and the Rams are Super Bowl champions! And it's time to reveal our judging panel's (me and Office Dog) top honors for this year's Super Bowl ads.
Note that, while everyone has their opinions of the best and worst, funniest and failures, award winners and money wasters, noteworthy and not worthy, our Super Bowl Ad Awards may stray wildly from the standard accolades for Super Bowl ads. Our goal is to recognize the Super Bowl ads that stuck, the ones that sucked, and the ads resonated with the person who watched the game first, the commercials second, and had a beer or two while actually enjoying the entire show (from the viewpoint of an advertising guy who worked Super Bowl promotions in bars for 15 years). So, without further non-poetry…
Best "We Phoned It In"Award
Budweiser's tagline has long been "The King of Beers." And I'm old enough to remember when Budweiser was also the King of Super Bowl Advertising. Yes kids, there was a time when Budweiser Super Bowl ads were funny, buzzworthy, and memorable.
But, it seems Budweiser has abdicated both its royal titles. While losing market share to an array of trendy seltzers, ciders, and trendy microbrew swill, and running among the gamut of screaming, over-the-top Super Bowl ads, Budweiser chose to just burnish its brand with a schmaltzy spot featuring a dog worrying about the health of its Clydesdale buddy. The 60-second ad posted below was a great spot that would have quieted the room and made viewers say "awwwww." But, unfortunately, Budweiser ran a too-short, 30-second version during the 2:00 warring commercial break that didn't have time to actually connect with the audience (especially at that point in the game). Why they ran the :30 instead of the :60 (which is embedded below), I don't know. But I do know Budweiser's advertising agency can make those ads in their sleep, it won't sell much beer and, pretty much like the Budweiser beer brand, it will quickly be forgotten.
The A For Execution But... Award
The first ad of the game came from Toyota and told the story of the McKeever brothers, one of whom lost his sight but still won Paralympic Games gold medals with the help and support of his brother. It was really an inspiring spot, that suffered from running at the start of the game and the use of the edgy, senseless please-use-this-in-a-hashtag tagline, "Start Your Impossible." How that applies to selling Toyotas, I don't know. But it was a well-done spot.
The Office Dog Honors Award
This award honors the best use of animals (preferably monkeys) in Super Bowl ads. However, monkeys seem to be passé in Super Bowl ads these days. In fact, animals of any kind were barely featured in this year's crop of Super Bowl ads. The ad for Flamin' Hot Doritos and Cheetos gave us various wildlife eating junk food and beatboxing (though feeding any animal Flamin' Hot Doritos or Cheetos should be considered animal cruelty). That pretty much left the Kia ad for its EV6 electric car. Sentient, animated dogs were in vogue this year, and the Kia ad featured an electric "Robo Dog," who wants a human owner, chasing an electric car. All in all, it was a fun spot that at least had some form of animal in it (even if it was an animated Robo Dog).
The WTF? Award
The ads that Matthew McConaughey did for Lincoln several years ago were strange. The ads that McConaughey did for Wild Turkey were equally weird. So, true to form, SalesForce's Super Bowl ad starred Matthew McConaughey spouting lots of self-righteous tropes about what "we need to do" here on earth instead of exploring alternate realities or other planets (take that Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos!). Oh did I mention that McConaughey did all this while floating around in a hot air balloon while wearing a spacesuit? SalesForce is essentially a software company and the payoff to the spot was the company (through McConaughey) declaring themselves "#TeamEarth." Short of taking pokes at Zuckerberg and Bezos, I have no clue what SalesForce was trying to accomplish with this spot.
Rakuten is a shopping app, or something. But I honestly spent the entirety of this ad thinking it was an online betting ad. I've watched it four times and I'm still not sure what Rakuten is.
The Please Just Go Away Award
Pro tip when writing Super Bowl ads; being annoying will only get you so far. Needless to say, Carvana's ad featuring a wildly annoying lady annoyingly describing everything that made her car purchase through Carvana wonderful got real old, real fast. If buying a car through Caravan is this annoying, I think I'd rather get strong-armed in finance by a traditional car dealer while undergoing a root canal.
Best Ad That Looked Like a 90s Era Computer Screensaver
Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange app, ran an ad that was nothing but a QR code bouncing around the screen. Those who ran to their screen and scanned the code were taken to the Coinbase webpage and, if they downloaded the app, they could be rewarded with a token amount of cryptocurrency and a chance to win even more in Bitcoin. There was a brief screen at the end highlighting Coinbase, but overall, it was a cheap gimmick to draw more potential investors who don't fully understand how crypto works.
Best Superfluous Use Of A Celebrity
See Salesforce above.
The Super Bowl Ad Awards For The Non-Poetic Water Cooler Winner
While the Uber Eats "Don't Eats" spot was fun and memorable, it took too long to pay off. That said, Gwyneth Paltrow was totally believable as being dumb enough to eat a candle.
That left the BMW electric vehicle spot featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Salma Hayek as the Greek gods Zeus and Hera, who've retired to Palm Springs (along with their pet pegasus Peggy). As Zeus grows frustrated with the mortal world's electric needs, Hera introduces him to the BMW iX EV "Ultimate Electric Driving Machine." It puts the spark back in Zeus's life and the two happily enjoy the ride as Eddie Grant's "Electric Avenue" plays. It was a funny concept, a well-written ad, and it captured your attention and kept you guessing. It had one of the more amusing fine print disclaimers at the bottom of the screen, too. For my money, it was one of the better, and more memorable Super Bowl ads I've seen in quite a while.
So, there ya' go... my Super Bowl Ad Awards for 2022. Some good, some bad, some creative, some cliché. Feel free to leave your thoughts, picks, pans, favorites and failures in the comments. And, until then, when does the 2022 football season start?